Firefighters are battling a huge fire at a major oil refinery which supplies one sixth of the UK’s diesel and petrol.
Shocking pictures show flames and clouds of thick black smoke billowing out from the heavy machinery at Stanlow Oil Refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.
Cheshire Fire Service said all the staff at the plant were evacuated and accounted for.
Six fire engines were sent to tackle the blaze, which firefighters believe started inside a manufacturing building within the plant.
The refinery employs more than 900 staff and an additional 500 on-site contractors, according to operator Essar Oil UK.
Brian Howell, 60, said he was relaxing in the Eastham Ferry area, around eight miles away, when he ‘heard a loud “whoosh” type explosion’.
He added: ‘I looked over to Stanlow and there was an aggressive fire and lots of black smoke.’
The fire has not disrupted the plant’s operations, a spokeswoman for Essar Oil UK said.
She said: ‘Earlier this afternoon a fire occurred at the SHOP chemical plant. Both the site emergency services and Cheshire County Fire Service are in attendance to deal with the incident.
‘All personnel have been accounted for. Refinery operations at Stanlow remain unaffected.’
By 3.30pm the fire was confined to the site, with crews now using a ground and handheld monitor to extinguish pockets of flame.
Firefighters worked with on-site staff to deal with the unfolding emergency.
Stanlow has a team of 25 full-time staff to allow for immediate action to prevent potential catastrophes.
Stanlow produces 4.4 billion litres of diesel and three billion litres of petrol annually, according to Essar Oil UK.
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